Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the October 18, 2000

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

La Borgata’s Brothers 2

Daily except Mondays, John (Giovanni) Procaccini leaves

his job as manager of international business at the Sarnoff


and heads down the road to a restaurant — his restaurant, La


This 25-year-old Princeton native and his younger brother Tino opened

the place last year in an unlikely spot, a former pizza parlor at

a strip mall in Kingston (

Restaurants come and go in this town, but the brothers are having

phenomenal success, bringing the cooking they learned from home to

lovers of Italian food. La Borgata has prospered, as proven by the

wait for those without reservations — sometimes 90 minutes long.

So after just one year they are expanding. Procaccini bought the


license and the property formerly owned by Studio 27, which used to

be a liquor store and topless dance emporium. The first La Borgata

will remain an upscale restaurant but will now have the liquor license

and be open to the public for dinner only. In the former Studio 27

space will be a pizzeria & bistro for the lunch and casual dinner

crowd, called La Borgata Cafe and Italian Specialties.

"In order to grow both businesses, we decided to segregate,"

says John Procaccini. "The Studio 27 location will have brick

oven pizza, Italian pastries, a cafe bar, and Italian specialties.

It will complement the small restaurant, which will be for fine


After patrons finish their dinner at La Borgata, they will be


to go for coffee and dessert a few doors down, European style, as

if strolling from one cafe to another. This would allow the


to turn over the tables faster.

"Because I also have pizza traffic, with people waiting,"

he says, "they will see product — fresh mozzarella, bread,

pastry, cannolis — and they will buy with their eyes."

No lunches will be served to the public at the upscale

La Borgata, but Procaccini hopes to attract the "corporate


business, groups of 20 to 60 for meetings, promotion parties,


and the like. Because this space will be the one with the liquor


the corporate lunchers will be able to imbibe.

"When we leased that place people told me we were crazy,"

says Procaccini. "But there is plenty of parking, and the rent

is peanuts. It would be nine times more expensive in Princeton. I

have a following that you wouldn’t believe — sometimes there is

a 1 1/2 hour wait, and I feel bad to see them in the parking lot."

Costantino, the proud father of these two entrepreneurs, has a


business, and their mother, Flora, will be helping out on the bistro

side of the business. In fact, Tino and John credit their mother with

the original recipes for the wonderful sauces, and as lovers of


cuisine know, it’s the wonderful sauces that count.

Eateries based on Mama’s home cooking are a familiar business model

in Italian neighborhoods like Trenton’s Chambersburg, which attracts

diners from miles around to its more than a dozen restaurants. This

model is proving an equal success here, where many of the area’s


families are from Pettoranallo, Princeton’s sister city. In fact,

the extra virgin olive oil served here with the bread is from the

Procaccini family’s groves in Pettoranello, where their grandparents

still live.

The name of the restaurant, La Borgata, means "little village

or family estate, where generations of one family live." It


the brothers’ intent to highlight different local flavors. Pizza


are named after towns: Pizza Pettoranello has grilled sausage and

broccoli rabe while Pizza Isernia features prosciutto, mushrooms,

and tangy arugula.

"All our pastas are made fresh by hand, all our breads. We do

sell the sauce — we see a demand for it. Our customers love the

sauce and want to take some home," says Procaccini. With the bread

he serves the family olive oil blended with crushed garlic, black

olives, rosemary and basil. With each entree also comes an organic

spring mix salad and fresh-baked garlic knots.

Their specialty is food from the Molise region of central Italy. A

calamari appetizer calamari fried golden brown is, soups are $3.50,

and a Caesar salad with chicken is $7. Pasta dishes are $11 to $14,

and chicken or veal is $13 to $15. Shrimp & Scallop Fra Diavolo (jumbo

shrimp and Atlantic sea scallops simmered in a spicy marinara sauce

served over angel hair pasta) is $15.95. The children’s menu —

pasta dishes, mozzarella sticks with chicken tenders, or Italian fries

— are $5.

Desserts at about $5 might be Tiramusu, Cassata (a Sicilian


of vanilla and chocolate ice cream with cream and candied fruit),

Tartufo (fantasy creams covered with chocolate cream rolled in


crushed peanuts and powdered cocoa) or fresh fruit sorbetto.

Tino just turned 22, but make no mistake, says his brother, Tino is

the head chef and is in charge of menus, helped by 26-year-old Javier

Racinos and his father-in-law, Luis Deleon. "Tino has been working

in restaurants for forever," says John, noting that even before

Tino could drive, he went with a neighbor to a restaurant he managed

in South Plainfield and then to one in Hillsborough. Following in

the footsteps of his John, a Rider alumnus, Tino is enrolled at Rider

University and is taking early morning classes.

John’s dual entrepreneurial and corporate career started when he was

hired out of Princeton High School, Class of 1993, by Sarnoff. He

had a rugged schedule. He worked at Sarnoff from 5 to 8 a.m. and then

again 1 to 5 p.m., using the morning break to attend classes full

time at Rider. He graduated in 1997 and has gone from financial


into marketing. As Sarnoff’s manager of international business, he

uses his languages — French and Italian — and reports to


Ettenberg, corporate senior vice president.

"Sarnoff has been great," says Procaccini. "I do what

I have to do while I’m here, and I don’t commingle the business. I

develop relationships internationally and am off to Tokyo this


In the corporate world, as in the restaurant business, nice guys can

finish first.

— Barbara Fox

La Borgata Ristorante and Pizzeria, 4437 Route

27, Kingston Mall, Princeton 08540. Giovanni (John) Procaccini, owner.

Tino Procaccini, chef. 609-921-3043; fax, 609-921-9363.

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